Menchaca To Possible Rivals: Bring It On

Red Hook

City Council Member Carlos Menchaca (D-Sunset Park/Red Hook), like many in Brooklyn’s political community, is hearing how he’s going to face stiff competition in his re-election campaign, and he has three words for potential rivals: “Bring it on!”

And challenges could be looming on the horizon attorney and business owner Delvis Valdes, and possibly Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (D-Sunset Park/Red Hook/South Slope/Greenwood Heights) or from former City Council Member Sara Gonzalez, who Menchaca defeated in 2013

City Councilman Carlos Menchaca

“I think that it’s [challengers] only going to make me stronger and better to communicate what we’ve done. I’m proud of the work that we’re doing right now. We’re building, stitching and connecting communities that have never been connected before in a way that is about community and the future of Sunset Park. I think what you are going to see in [my] campaign is the best of Sunset Park, said Menchaca.

Since beating incumbent Gonzalez for the 38th district in 2013, Menchaca has been focused on LGBT and immigrant issues. He is the Chair of the Council’s Committee on Immigration and is a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus. The council member himself was the first openly gay council member elected to office from Brooklyn.

In the past month, Menchaca helped pass legislation on the city officially becoming a Sanctuary City and has been holding rallies and protest to protect the immigrant population in his district.

Delvis Valdes

Valdes, a local Sunset Park business owner with multiple children’s daycares centers and a practicing attorney, is considering a run. He has strong opinions about issues that need to be addressed in the district, as a member of Community Board 7, starting with education and homelessness

“I am giving it [running] some serious thought and discussing the matter with the family. I am definitely not happy with what has happened in the past three years in this district. There are a lot of matters not being tended to. Education is one big thing for me. Nothing has become of education in the last few years. We have a tremendous, tremendous shortage of seats both at the pre-k level and in the elementary level education. We are short on high school seats as well. There’s no planning for the future. Homelessness is another issue. De Blasio seems to halt any project here in Sunset Park, in particular for the homeless. We met with three representatives from DHS (Department of Homeless Services) and they had the audacity to come down to our community board meeting and tell us there are no homeless shelters in Sunset Park, said Valdes.

The long-time Sunset Park resident claims that the homeless community in Sunset Park is being forced to rent out hotel rooms instead of being placed in shelters. The hotels are turning into de-facto shelters with every room going to a homeless person.

Valdes also believes that the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX), which would run along Brooklyn’s waterfront from Sunset Park to Astoria in Queens, is going to hurt the community instead of being an economic development booster. He finds problems with Menchaca giving the city a 39-year-lease to the Sunset Park waterfront area. He also feels that the council member has been under the radar, only just recently becoming active in the political environment affecting his constituency.

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz

Ortiz is keeping his intention of running for the council seat close to the vest, but several Democratic sources say he is considering a run for the seat. He didn’t admit nor deny his run when asked but he is pleased that he has support from the district and others if he chooses to run.

“I’m hearing rumors about that everyday and it’s nice that people still remember my name. I don’t know where the rumors came from but I’m going to continue to do the people’s work at the Assembly,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz was elected to the Assembly back in 1994, and has sponsored some ground breaking legislation including in 2000, The ban of hand-held cellphone use while operating a motor vehicle, and just last week proposed legislation to completely eliminate plastic bags from all merchants in the state of New York.

“I think that it is critical that we begin to be proactive on environmental issues as a result of climate [change]. We have someone [President Donald Trump] in the White House, who doesn’t believe in climate change and I think that it is imperative for the state to start taking actions in order to preserve our environment, said Ortiz.

Gonzalez could not be reached in time to comment for this post.